Britain signed its biggest post-Brexit trade deal last night, linking up with a host of fast-growing economies on the Pacific Rim.
In a major development, the UK was accepted into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opening up trade opportunities with a market of 500 million people.
The deal is expected to add £1.8bn to the UK’s annual GDP over time and will be a significant boost for exporters.
Rishi Sunak said the deal “demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms” and would put the UK “in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation”.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, formally known as CPTPP, currently comprises 11 economies, including Australia, Japan, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam.
Rishi Sunak (pictured) said the UK’s acceptance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership “demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms”.
The group has a combined GDP of £9 trillion, a figure that will rise to £11 trillion when the UK formally joins next year, representing around 15 per cent of the global economy.
Britain’s accession was agreed last night and full details will be published later today.
But officials said it would provide a significant boost to exporters in sectors such as food, beverages and automobiles. More than 99 per cent of UK goods exports to member states will now be eligible for zero tariffs, including products such as cars, machinery, cheese, chocolate, whiskey and gin.
Tariffs on some imports will also be reduced, which could reduce the price of goods such as rice from Vietnam and bananas from Peru.
Controversially, tariffs on palm oil imports will be reduced, despite concerns about the industry’s impact on the environment.
Malaysia’s inclusion in the deal is seen as a key prize as the UK currently has no trade deal with the fast-growing economy, which imposes tariffs of up to 165 per cent on Scotch whiskey imports.
The deal is a significant coup for Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch, who has spent months finalizing the details.
The deal is a major coup for Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch (pictured), who has spent months finalizing the details.
Last night, Ms Badenoch hailed the deal as an “important moment for the UK” which “sends a powerful signal that the UK is open for business and using our post-Brexit freedoms to reach new markets around the world.” and grow our economy. ‘.
He added: ‘Joining the CPTPP will support employment and create opportunities for businesses of all sizes and in all parts of the UK.
“This is about giving British businesses better access to countries that will be a gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region, which is expected to account for the majority of global growth in the future.”
Whitehall sources rejected suggestions that Britain is simply swapping the EU for another unwieldy trading bloc. “It’s nothing like the EU,” said one source. ‘It has no court, parliament, budget, public office or flag. “It’s a very good trade deal, but that’s all.”
But the details of the deal will be closely studied by individual sectors.
Farmers have warned they could be hit hard if ministers open the farming sector too quickly to big producers like Canada.
And unions have warned against any agreement that dilutes workers’ rights.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak described the agreement as “disastrous”.
But last night officials insisted ministers had resisted pressure to soften British standards and rights. Sources said the total ban on imports of hormone-treated beef will remain in place despite pressure from Canada to lift it.
Ministers have also resisted calls to weaken rules on pesticide residues, which was another key concern for farmers and consumer groups.
Experts believe Britain’s accession could revive US interest in the partnership, which was abandoned by Donald Trump in 2017.